Debunking Karen: Do You Know There Have Been Fewer Deaths Overall…

Hashtagged Reality
3 min readJan 5, 2021

I adore “Karen” videos. Without throwing judgment or political bias, I have to admit, I eat them up. They are my guilty indulgence. I suspect this is how others must feel about watching the Kardashians.

In a recent Karen video, she claimed there were fewer deaths in 2018 than 2019. She defiantly announces the deaths had simply been categorized differently and challenges people to “Look it up!” So, I did.

Check Your Sources

The Center for Disease Control (the CDC) is the “nation’s health protection agency.” It provides “information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats.”

So, offhand, I’m going to say this looks like a pretty good source. The CDC is reporting numbers they received from The National Center for Health Statistics. So, wait, who are these guys?

Well, it turns out they are an arm of the CDC whose sole mission is “to provide statistical information that will guide actions and policies to improve the health of the American people.” Well, damn, these guys probably know what they are talking about!

When Are The Official Numbers Available?

The NCHS employs the National Death Index (NDI) as a centralized database of death record information. The states report their deaths to the NDI. Here’s the tricky bit.

According to the NCHS, death records are added to the NDI file annually. So it’s like tax season for accountants. It hits all at once. And that data upload doesn’t happen until eleven months after the calendar year.

So, as of November 2020, we should be uploading the death numbers for 2019. This also means that we won’t have an official government-sponsored count on mortality in 2020 until, at the very least, November 2021!

The 2018 Death Numbers: 2,839,205

As reported by the NCHS, via the CDC, the recorded number of deaths in 2018 was 2,839,205. If you want to be particularly morbid about it, they provide a breakdown of death by cause of death.

So, great. We know for sure that in 2018, 2.8 million people died. Bummer. But what about 2019, and more importantly, 2020?

The 2019 Death Numbers: 2,854,838?

Luckily, the NDI has an early release program for the data to be made available when at least 90% of the year’s death records have been received and processed. In that case…

According to a December 2020 release of 2019 findings, the NCHS preliminarily reports a total of 2,854,838 registered deaths in 2019. In total 15,633 more deaths than the year before.

The 2020 Death Numbers: 3,252,000??

There are preliminary numbers from the CDC on 2020. Referred to as “State and National Provisional Results”, these charts detail the information they have received so far. Although it is expected to have some fluctuation before the official numbers are released.

Looking at reported data, they show a total of 1,626,000 deaths, nationally, from the first half of the year.

If we were to double that total to loosely account for the second half of the year, that total reaches 3,252,000.

Debunking Karen…

In all, Karen’s first claim that there have been fewer deaths in the US in 2019 than in 2018, is simply untrue. Given the available data at the time of writing, there are over 15,500 more deaths in 2019 than the year before.

And as to potential numbers for 2020 — the true year of the pandemic — initial numbers unofficially suggest close to 3.2 million deaths. Using these numbers, this means almost 400,000 more deaths in 2020 than in 2019.

Coincidentally, this is eerily similar to the current total of deaths attributed to coronavirus: 352,464.

Put on a mask, Karen.